Vietnamese food is more than pho and banh mi, a fact Henry Trieu has been proving since his years at San Francisco’s acclaimed Slanted Door. At his aqua-hued bistro—a charming sit-down affair opened in April—the Saigon native showcases the cross-pollinated cuisine of his hometown, a rich blend of Chinese and French influences. While Edith Piaf croons over the stereo, Bushwick locals tuck into Chinese-inflected cha tom ($7), crispy, compact nuggets of sweet shrimp, jicama and shiitake mushrooms wrapped in tofu paper; and elegant slips of sautéed eggplant ($9), coated in silky coconut curry and lemongrass sprigs, over glasses of Finger Lakes riesling. Catfish kho ($15) comes the traditional way, in a bubbling clay pot, flaky white fillets rendered mahogany brown after an hour-long simmer in nuoc màu (bittersweet caramel sauce).
As of late, Korean, Chinese and Thai riffs have all taken a turn in the gastro-hype spotlight. Now, another Asian cuisine comes to the fore: New Vietnamese restaurants are breaking out of the traditional banh mi mold. From Ridgewood to Carroll Gardens, chefs are putting their own spins on the cuisine. Find Far East flavors updated with refined techniques and farm-to-table ingredients at these Vietnamese spots.